To protect citizens, Orange County Sheriff's Office monitors 6,500 live video feeds

Officials monitor cameras at schools, traffic intersections

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The Orange County School District just gave the Sheriff's Office access to its network of about 4,000 cameras in school hallways, parking lots, lunchrooms and classrooms.

Orange County Sheriff John Mina said his detectives and crime analysts will monitor the feeds if there's ever a serious threat.

"Under certain circumstances we'll be able to have a live feed inside schools to save lives," Mina said.

Mina said the live feeds would show deputies in real time where an active shooter is, how many there are and who has been hurt.

In past school shootings, responding officers lost time and lives because they didn't know where the shooter was.

"We're able to see inside the school, look down the hallways and see all the parts of the school and maybe identify where the suspect was last seen, where there are injured people trying to get help," Mina said.

Mina said the feeds would never be used to watch students and would only be used for an emergency.

The school video feeds are only some of the 6,500 feeds piped into the Analytics, Intelligence and Monitoring, or AIM, room at Orange County Sheriff's Office headquarters.

Detectives and crime analysts work together in the AIM room gathering real-time information from the video feeds, records, internet searches and even social media to better equip deputies as they respond to calls.

Last year, the Sheriff's Office got several urgent calls about a shirtless man breaking into cars along Winter Garden Road, carrying a rifle and pointing it at passing cars.

Detectives located a nearby traffic camera and watched the man while sending undercover cars to divert traffic and pedestrians and positioning deputies behind a nearby building.

When the man walked past the building, deputies surprised him and arrested him peacefully.

"It's absolutely getting results," Mina said. "It's a game changer to see someone holding a rifle in real time and be able to safely direct our resources and direct the take down in the safest possible way, to keep our citizens safe. And really it's the way of the future if you look at Seattle and New York, this is what they have."

Last week, crime analysts working in the AIM room researched a call to which deputies were responding for a drive-by shooting. Two houses had been hit.

Deputies were about to do a well-being check to make sure the residents were not hurt when analyst Kaitlyn Noe, researching records, discovered past violence at one of the homes.

"It turns out the house that was initially hit, they had no [criminal] history, no nothing," Noe said. "So we looked at the house next door and turns out the guy next door had an active warrant and a violent past."

Sgt. Glenn Arguilla, who oversees AIM, relayed the information to the deputy about to knock on the door.

"I called up the deputy. He said he was going to just check on the well-being [of the occupants]," Arguilla said. "I told him to slow down, call for backup because you could come into contact with someone who may harm you."

Because of the information, responding deputies waited for backup and took a cautious, protective approach. They were able to safely complete their well-being check and their investigate the shooting.

About the Author: